Pioneering apprenticeships partnership launched to boost health and social care careers in East Anglia


An innovative new partnership is being launched by education providers and health boards in East Anglia which will transform apprenticeship provision to boost health and social care careers.

The Centre of Excellence for Health Apprenticeships (CEHA), announced today, will provide apprenticeship progression routes from levels 2 through to 7 – the equivalent of GCSE levels right through to Master’s degrees in East Anglia, becoming a ‘one-stop-shop’ for learners in the region.

The ground-breaking partnership will help tackle identified gaps in the health and social care workforce locally, as well as provide clearer progression opportunities for apprentices and make career pathways easier to identify for all.

The launch of the partnership will feature the University of Suffolk, Suffolk New College, East Coast College and the College of West Anglia as the education providers, working with the Suffolk and North East Essex and Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care Systems.

Existing apprenticeships already provided by the partners include a diverse range of career paths, including in early years, nursing, paramedics, clinical associates, radiography, midwifery and dental technicians among others.

New apprenticeships are also set to be developed under the plans, due to launch in the next 18 months.

Mandi Syrett, project manager for CEHA, has more than seven years of experience in health apprenticeships in both clinical and education settings.

“I am incredibly excited to lead this partnership – I really believe in apprenticeships and how integral they are to helping address our health and social care workforce challenges,” Mandi said.

“All of the partners have a really strong track record of developing learners to become career-ready in the health sector, and by having both employers and training providers on board with the Centre of Excellence we are putting learners in the best position possible to start and progress in their careers.”

The Centre of Excellence will play an important role in addressing the workforce challenges in the health and social care sector, with the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan identifying apprenticeships as a key driver in recruiting and retaining staff.

Post-pandemic recruitment figures have indicated student enrolments in 2023 were 12 per cent lower than in 2022, according to the Council of Deans Health 2023.

In addition, the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan has indicated a shortfall of between 260,000 and 360,000 staff nationally by 2036/37 without immediate action.

As well as helping to meet the workforce needs, the Centre of Excellence will also offer learners clear progression pathways to careers in the health and social care sector, including opportunities for upskilling and retraining existing workers.

Julia Bates, Deputy Principal for Curriculum and Strategic Partnerships at East Coast College, said: “We are excited to be part of this new partnership which offers clearly mapped pathways from levels 2 to 7 in health and social care apprenticeships, helping to address the critical skills shortages in the NHS. 

“By partnering with other institutions we can play our part in improving recruitment planning, providing valuable opportunities and good jobs for our students and the communities we serve.”